Philosophy of science in practice and weak scientism together apart

In Moti Mizrahi Mizrahi (ed.), For and Against Scientism: Science, Methodology, and the Future of Philosophy. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. pp. 0-0 (2022)
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The term ‘scientism’ has not attracted consensus about its meaning or about its scope of application. In this paper, we consider Mizrahi’s suggestion to distinguish ‘Strong’ and ‘Weak’ scientism, and the consequences this distinction may have for philosophical methodology. While we side with Mizrahi that his definitions help advance the debate, by avoiding verbal dispute and focussing on questions of method, we also have concerns about his proposal as it defends a hierarchy of knowledge production. Mizrahi’s position is that Weak Scientism should be adopted, stating that “of all the knowledge we have, scientific knowledge is the best knowledge”. This version of scientism, however, has consequences for philosophical methodology. In particular, if one conceives of philosophy as an a priori discipline and holds Weak Scientism, the introduction of empirical methods in philosophy may threaten its very essence or soul. In this chapter, we will defend the move to adopt empirical methods in philosophy and argue that, rather than threatening its essence or soul, these methods put philosophy in a better position to contribute to knowledge production, an endeavor shared with the sciences, and in a very interdisciplinary spirit. Our point of disagreement with Mizrahi is that we should avoid any hierarchy of knowledge, and instead focus on what each perspective -- scientific, philosophical, historical, or other -- can contribute to understanding phenomena.

Author Profiles

Luana Poliseli
Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research
Federica Russo
University of Amsterdam


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